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FAQ

How is diphtheria spread?

Page last updated 13 January 2022

Diphtheria is spread from person-to-person by coughing or sneezing.

In Australia, it is now more common in adults rather than children – as most children have high levels of immunity due to immunisation programs. To prevent the spread of diphtheria, high levels of immunity are required in all age groups – which is why both adults and children are advised to be vaccinated against diphtheria.

In rare cases, the bacteria that cause diphtheria can cause a skin infection (called cutaneous diphtheria), and in these cases, the disease may spread by having contact with pus from the wound.

Sources & Citations

1. Victorian Government. Better Health Channel. Diphtheria. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/diphtheria (accessed 24 November 2021).

5.Centers for Disease Control. Chapter 4, travel-related infectious diseases. Diphtheria. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/diphtheria (accessed 24 November 2021).

7. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. Diphtheria. Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/diphtheria (accessed 24 November 2021).

9. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Diphtheria in Australia. Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/f4c418f9-b4fe-4fb3-84e6-366d5098a8a0/aihw-phe-236_Diphtheria.pdf.aspx (accessed 24 November 2021).

 

MAT-AU-2102461   Date of preparation January 2022

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